My husband and I are big pasta fans, and we both love it with garlic and olive oil. The only thing better than garlic? Roasted garlic. That’s why I swooned when I found this Lemon Garlic Pasta recipe. It sounded like pasta heaven to me, and there was no way I wasn’t going to try it!
This post was originally published on June 6, 2017. The text and photos were updated on July 29, 2021. The review and rating have not been changed.
If you are in the mood for a delicious pasta dish with simple flavors, this is it. Recipes don’t have to be complicated to be tasty.
Let’s talk cheese. You don’t want the parmesan for this recipe to come from a shiny green canister. Go to the deli and buy a block of parmesan and grate it. It’s worth the extra effort, and it really isn’t that much extra effort.
If, however, you don’t care for the real deal (like my husband), you can buy decent grated parmesan in the dairy case. The flavor is less pungent than a block of parmesan, and it’s still better than the canned stuff.
Speaking of extra effort, zest one of the lemons before you juice it. It’s quick and is far better than dried lemon zest, and you will taste the difference. Finally, you need good olive oil. The simplicity of this dish lets you taste all the ingredients, so good olive oil is key.
The total time listed for this recipe is 40 minutes, and that’s exactly how long it took me. I didn’t break down the time into prep and cooking, though, but here’s how it went.
Roasting the Garlic
The first time I made this recipe, I did cheat a little and buy peeled garlic cloves. It tastes just as good and saves sooooo much time. Step 1 covers this, but Nicole has more detailed instructions on roasting garlic (scroll down and you will find the extra easy method just below the recipe, which is what I used). Just be sure to put the ramekin you roast the garlic in on top of a baking sheet, especially if your oven’s racks are widely spaced.
But I have made this recipe many times since I originally posted it, and now I just buy a head of garlic and roast it. I peel the loose skin off the garlic but otherwise leave it intact. Then I trim pointy ends just a little to open the cloves and set the whole head into a ramekin.
The rest is the same as the original: drizzle in olive oil, cover in foil, and roast for 30-40 minutes (30 minutes is usually enough). Also, I like to use my toaster oven instead of heating the oven for a tiny dish of garlic. When the garlic is done, I set it aside to cool for 5-10 minutes. Once cooled, it’s easy to squeeze out the roasted garlic cloves.
This dish went together very quickly once the garlic was roasted. I roasted the garlic late in the afternoon so it would be cooled by the time I was ready to start dinner. Tip: It would be worth it to roast some garlic on the weekend to have it ready for a quick and easy weeknight meal. Your Lemon Garlic Pasta would be ready in 15-20 minutes.
The recipe suggests angel hair pasta, so that’s what I used. It was ready in just 4 minutes. You can’t beat that! I have used other types of pasta, though, and it all works—spaghetti, linguine, etc. Although I have never tried it, I bet short tail pasta like rotini would work too.
I finished things up in a large saute pan. It was deep enough that I could stir the lemon-garlic sauce and add the pasta without making a huge mess. Once the pasta was thoroughly coated with the sauce, all I had to do was portion it out and top with lemon zest, parmesan, and a touch of red pepper flakes.